Skip to main content

tv   Road to the White House  CSPAN  July 27, 2015 1:11am-2:01am EDT

1:11 am
the eu is just that. it doesn't succumb to to the temptation. focused on how to protect. social models. the competitive in the globalizing economy. that has been among challenge for the european union. that is at the heart of the renegotiations and restatements. objectives of the union union that we are seeking. >> of course on the absolutely important part of our agenda small in number and population but a very solemn obligation and commitment that we have filled out in the white paper.
1:12 am
>> [inaudible] >> when it comes to our approach which doesn't take into account to continue to almost take on the evidence of those roles to take both sides. why is it that we can't get this right to this changing approach and lack of analysis doesn't inspire confidence. >> that is a gross misrepresentation of the situation. what happened is the situation
1:13 am
on the ground has changed. when we were first looking at the situation in syria it was a civil war with opposition groups fighting a regime which was responding with ever more ruthless military means. what happened in the meantime is isis has become a fact on the ground controlling a significant area of territory more extreme. they've become a much more important sector in the conflict on the ground and that is hugely complicated the situation. it was a relatively black-and-white thing in the beginning. [inaudible]
1:14 am
[inaudible] the holding of the establishing of something like the government is usually going to complicated situation. for the record it is still out and at no time was there a proposal in the general sense in fact there was a specific opposition to respond to the use of chemical weapons by the regime to date for the further use of chemical weapons. >> [inaudible] >> can i thank you very much for this initial session we are very
1:15 am
grateful to you and look forward to resuming. all in order. the meeting is now >> we hear more about iran nuclear agreement when secretary john state john kerry and secretary moniz returned to justify. that will be live on tuesday at 10 a.m. on c-span 3. early today, the senate was in session to continue working the highway and transportation funding bill. here's a look at the debate started with senators mitch mcconnell and harry reid. it is about an hour.
1:16 am
highway bill and we're close to finally passing a fiscally responsible and bipartisan one. time is running short to get a bill through congress, but as with most legislation we still intend to consider some amendments from both sides of the aisle as we continue to work to pass it. wreel start on that -- we'll start on that today. most important is a proposal that would repeal obamacare and allow our country to start over fresh with a real health reform proposal. there's no question that i'll be voting for it. there's no question that every senator should join me in doing so. this is a law filled with higher costs, fewer choices and broken promises. this is a law that's failed repeatedly and that continues to hammer hardworking middle-class
1:17 am
families. the vote we'll take this afternoon represents a stark choice for every senator. protect a president who likes a law with his name on it or stand with the middle class by finally opening the way to truly affordable care. another proposal relates to the export-import bank. i'll be voting against it. the export-import bank is a new-deal relic that has outlived any usefulness it might have had. if a project is worthy, private banks will step in to finance it. and if it's not worthy, we should definitely not be financing it by putting american taxpayers on the hook. either way ex-im is not necessary. at the same time i understand that many senators on both sides take a different view. a significant percentage of my conference and many democrats support the ex-im's
1:18 am
reauthorization. they're entitled to that view. i don't see a reason why they shouldn't be allowed a debate and then a vote to sort all of this out. i've said repeatedly and i've said publicly for months that the ex-im supporters from both parties should be allowed a vote. i also said publicly that the highway bill would be an obvious place to have that vote. so mr. president when there is overwhelming bipartisan support for an idea, even if i oppose it it doesn't require some special deal to see a vote occur on that measure. this is the united states senate after all where we debate and vote on all kinds of different issues. the supporters of ex-im can still lose a vote, of course. they are not the only ones with
1:19 am
passion on their side. those on my side of the issue are passionate too and this debate might just present the perfect opportunity to make the case against ex-im and carry the day in an open and democratic vote. but whatever the outcome the slots for these amendments will be open once the senate disposes of them. that will open the possibility of considering other important amendments. so let me repeat that. the slots for these amendments will open once the senate disposes of them. we know there are many other ideas from both sides of the aisle about how to improve the highway bill further before its completion. but we also know that time is running short to complete our work on the underlying highway bill. jobs mr. president are on the line. infrastructure projects important to the people we represent are on the line. so we have got to get this done.
1:20 am
we've got to get this done. and with cooperation, we can ensure that more ideas from both sides of the aisle are still heard and voted upon. this is a new senate. amendment votes are hardly a rarity here anymore. we will have more opportunity soon to address other issues in the weeks and months ahead and i will work with colleagues to help ensure that votes on other priorities occur. mr. reid: mr. president? mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the clerk be allowed to make technical changes to the substitute amendment regarding references to titles, divisions, page and line numbers. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: every day -- there are more motions to overrule
1:21 am
rulings by the chair fraught by disgruntled republican senators. at another time republican senators would have called this a number of things, not the least of which is the nuclear option. republicans have controlled the senate for about seven months now. it has become increasingly clear that what's wrong with the senate today is the same thing that's troubled the senate before republicans took control. dysfunction in the republican caucus. republicans probably won't succeed in overturning the rules of the senate today but an honest observer of the senate will recognize that the day is coming when they will unless the republicans become the party of eisenhower dodd, dirksen and even president reagan. mr. president, i was amused to hear the republican leader say that he looks forward to amendments. many senators on our side look forward to being able to offer
1:22 am
amendments, for example to improving the work safety provisions in the bill. but the amendment tree is filled. they're not going to have that opportunity unless something untoward happens. today the senate will vote on two amendments. how senators vote on these amendments will demonstrate their priorities. who is for american families and who is doing the bidding of special interests. consider today's vote yet another republican attempt to repeal the affordable care act obamacare. by all accounts, it's really working and working well. itis it -- is it perfect? of course not. that's why we invited the republicans for years now in joining with us and having a better health care deliver system. but obamacare is helping families all across this great nation. there are many, many facts. insurance companies can no longer discriminate against people with preexisting
1:23 am
conditions. they can't discriminate against anyone as they did when they discriminated basically against everyone. 12 million more people now have coverage through the medicaid programs and chip programs. health care costs are growing but very, very slowly. the slowest rate of growth in a long long time. and perhaps most importantly a share of americans who lack health insurance coverage is dramatically declining. after the latest supreme court victory less than a month ago i urged at that time our republican friends to stop banging their heads against the wall because it obviously doesn't feel good. why do they continually try to repeal the affordable care act? apparently two supreme court wins and more than 50 votes by congressional republicans to repeal the underlying affordable care act isn't enough for the republican leader and his friends. they're insisting on yet another partisan attempt to strip health
1:24 am
insurance coverage from more than 19 million americans. coverage that a recent commonwealth fund survey found more than 80% of americans are satisfied with this program. the republicans claim this obamacare repeal is part of their crusade to reduce the deficit but the congressional budget office said repealing the obamacare will increase the federal budget. today's vote isn't about reducing the deficit. it is about caving to special interests. it is about the republicans and their leader desperately trying to appease their base. i'm really appalled and more than that, disappointed by these continued partisan attempts to strip away insurance coverage for 20, almost 20 million americans. congress passed the affordable care act.
1:25 am
the president signed it into law and the supreme court has put a stamp of approval on it not once but twice. so it's time for republicans to move on, not take another politically motivated vote that's going nowhere. finally on another subject mr. president, export-import bank: after the obamacare vote, we will then consider the reauthorization of the export-import bank. in fact, their charter. once again how senators vote on the export-import bank will reveal their loyalties. companies like boeing, caterpillar, general electric, honeywell, along with dozens of companies in sparsely populated nevada along with thousands of small businesses across this country use this bank to finance billions of dollars of their exports. it's not only for boeing and caterpillar and big companies it's for thousands and thousands
1:26 am
of small businesses. most of the jobs in america are created not by the great big companies, but by small businesses. and they need this. they want this. that's why even the u.s. chamber of commerce, even the u.s. chamber of commerce, they must have been desperate to finally siding with us on something. they support the ex-im bank. this year alone the export-import bank supported 165,000 jobs here in america. a vote for that bank is a vote for jobs, a healthy economy and the prosperity of american families. conversely a vote against reauthorization is nothing more than a shameless attempt to garner the affection of the koch brothers. the koch brothers. after all opposition to the export-import bank is a prerequisite to having their support. every person running for president stumble over themselves to say oh, what do the brothers want today?
1:27 am
what they want today is a vote against this bank, contrary to the needs of the american people. the koch brothers distributed a survey to the republican presidential hopefuls that essentially obligates those candidates to oppose the ex-im bank. so i ask my colleagues here today, are you working for the american people? are you doing the dirty work for a couple of billionaire oil barons? a vet for repeal of affordable care act is a vote against american families today we -- senate democrats will vote for american families. mr. president, i want to say one word, he's not on the floor, i was hoping he would be. the senior senator from oklahoma is a very conservative republican senator. and he and i disagree on a lot of things but i have a great respect for his courage on this legislation. i think this legislation that we're moving forward on is far
1:28 am
from perfect but i listened to jim inhofe yesterday when he was on -- answering the president a republican always follows the president and senator inhofe i think did a fine job of spraining how important it is that we have a bill, a transportation bill. so i've said some nice things about senator boxer but it's time we said senator has up to 10 minutes. the presiding officer: thank you, mr. president. well it's sunday and it's unusual for us to be here, but as i've said many times this is the reason we're here, mr. president. look at this photo. this is the bridge collapse in california. and there's another report coming that says this is going to be far from the last one we have. this is a bridge that carries thousands of people a day from california to arizona.
1:29 am
mr. president, this can happen in any one of our states, and the fact is, we need to pass a transportation bill and i am so grateful to my colleague senator inhofe, to all of us on that committee that got this really started. the environment and public works committee, we had a 20-0 vote so we don't have to face this anymore. and after that, we had other committees act not in as bipartisan a fashion so it was difficult. and at that point leader mcconnell and senator durbin stepped in with senator inhofe and myself and all we did was try to get to where we are right now. which is a place where we can pass a fair funding bill. mr. president, i have a list here it's really interesting and i ask unanimous consent to place it into the record. the presiding officer: without objection.
1:30 am
mrs. boxer: my state counts on the federal government for one half of its transportation funding, highways and transit. rhode island counts on the federal government for 100%. alaska 93%. montana, 87%. south carolina, 79%. hawaii 79%. north dakota, 78%. wyoming, 73%. connecticut, 71%. new mexico, 70%. and it goes down from there but the vast majority of our states count on the federal government for funding. and what we have done as both senators reid and mcconnell have pointed out is we just keep patching up the highway trust fund and if i were to go to a bank and say i want to buy a house and the banker said you've got great credit, that's
1:31 am
the good news, the bad news is it's only a five-month mortgage. what would i do, mr. president? i would walk away sadly. i can't afford to invest in a home if i only have five months of a mortgage. it's the same way with the states. the way the house went about it and the way some of my colleagues on both sides here want to handle it is another five-month extension. and our states are stopping. tuesday, the general contractors told us that in 25 states they have begun to lay off many, many, many construction workers. in 25 states. now, we all know at the height of the great recession we had millions of unemployed construction workers. it's been tough to get them back to work. remember the businesses that employ them, it's tough to get them back to work.
1:32 am
it's been so hard and now we're seeing a reversal of all the hard work we did because we did a two year transportation bill that was very helpful this would be the first six-year authorization in decades and the first three-year funding, i believe it's ten years it could be more. we need to do this. i just want to close by saying this -- working across the aisle, it's always difficult but it's exciting, it's interesting, and the staffs from both sides have shown that they can do it. last night i was on the phone with senator mcconnell's staff, i think it was 20 to 12:00. i kept saying if if we can't fix this i have to call the senator. they said please don't please. we worked it out this morning. so i see the senator from rhode island senator whitehouse
1:33 am
coming in now and i told the senator, the senators, that rhode island counts on this federal highway trust fund for 100% of the funding. i also did not mention that senator whitehouse is on the environment and public works committee, he's a very active and productive member, and there's a program in there that is important to all our states, major programs that will finally have a fund, regardless of whether it's in kentucky or utah, rhode island or california. this is a fair bill. a good increase for highways, a good increase for transportation. states want it, cities want want it. yesterday i found out from senator inhofe, who did a terrific, by the way national radio address on this, i thank him for that -- that the mayor from oklahoma and the mayor from new york, a mayor -- a mayor from october and the they're from new york city wrote a letter saying -- oklahoma city and the mayor from new york city
1:34 am
wrote a letter saying how they need it. i personally support the export-import bank. my colleague and i do not agree on this. i think that the ex-im bank is important and i ask unanimous consent to place my full statement into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: we have a lot of small businesses that count on the ex-im bank that finance them so they can export their products. i hope it passes on a bipartisan vote and i want to thank leader mcconnell, i know this is not something he likes at all but he made a commitment and he's sticking to it. and lastly, we're going to have a vote to overturn obamacare. and senator hatch and i were discussing before how much we disagree on this point. but i told him i wouldn't hold back and i just think it doesn't make any sense. we are looking at millions of
1:35 am
people millions of people nationwide who now have health insurance, who cannot be told by their insurer you have a preexisting condition like high blood pressure diabetes, forget it. we have so many families that now have their 24-year-old 25-year-old, 26-year-old on their insurance. and i have stories stories that would really make you feel good stories from people in my state one whose cancer was caught at a very early stage mr. president, and as a result of that she has lived to tell the tale. because before obamacare she couldn't have gotten the tests that she needed to discover this deadly cancer. so i just say rhetorically to my friends on the side and they are my friends i tell you we have really built up some relationships over this bill which i'm so happy about. why don't we work together to fix the problems?
1:36 am
why don't we work together -- we know no bill is perfect. the transportation bill is far from perfect. we ought to fix that, too. maybe there's a new day dawning here. we keep saying that, it doesn't seem to happen but maybe something good is going to come from this bipartisanship. the transportation bill is far from perfect. i wanted to do so much more on safety and i want to say senator nelson did such a good job. senator wyden i must have talked to him half a dozen seems. he kept putting on pay-fors that were good. they were rejected by the other side. we could have done so much more senator if we had gone that way. we did what we could do. and just as in the trade battle where our caucus was very split, our caucus is very split here. but i hope we can find enough courage and interest and most important, keep this in mind.
1:37 am
this is to me the poster child of why we have come together. this is america this doesn't look like america, it's wrong and we can come together, hopefully vote for ex-im and against the repeal of obamacare, and then move forward with other good cloture vote tomorrow night on our very much compromised because it is a compromise bill, on transportation. again, my thanks to people on sides of the aisle democrats republicans, everybody for moving this along. and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president i have spent much of my time in public service working to promote bipartisanship in health care. in fact, the distinguished chairman of the finance committee is here, he may speak
1:38 am
next senator alexander from tennessee is here, cosponsor of my health reform bill. so for me bipartisanship in health policy is enormously important. and there is certainly plenty of ways in which democrats and republicans could be working together to strengthen the affordable care act. unfortunately, that does not seem to be on the menu either today or in this congress. today, instead of looking forward on health care in america, the senate on a transportation bill will have a vote on whether to go backward on health care. backward, for example, mr. president, to the days when health care in america is for the healthy and the wealthy. and i specifically use those words because the moment you
1:39 am
repeal the affordable care act millions of americans lose protection against preexisting conditions. the moment that happens mr. president, and colleagues, if you're healthy, no sweat. if you're wealthy no sweat. but for the millions who aren't they are back into that abyss where they go to bed at night worried that they may get wiped out the very next morning because they have a preexisting condition. so protection for those individuals, gone the moment the senate votes, i hope the senate will not vote for ending the affordable care act this afternoon but the moment it does gone is that protection for preexisting conditions. gone are the tax credits, tax
1:40 am
credits, these are opportunities for americans to get a little bit of tax relief for hardworking families pay for health insurance. gone when you repeal the affordable care act. gone would be the protections that bar insurance companies from charging top dollar for rock-bottom coverage. gone would be the protections for young adults. right now they can't be locked out of their parents' insurance plans. gone would be the protection for individuals to make sure their insurance isn't canceled the moment they get sick. once again pregnancy could be considered a preexisting chai i what i think is shows mr. president, is this debate is no longer about numbers on a
1:41 am
page. bills we write lots of charts, lots of graphs, lots of small print. but this isn't an abstraction when you go back, as i've described, to the days when health care is for the healthy and the wealthy. more than 16 million americans have gained health insurance coverage by virtue of the affordable care act. their health is on the line every single time there is a vote to repeal that law. so those are the consequences, mr. president, and i'm going to wrap up, because i see my good friend from tennessee here, and my senator -- and my colleague from utah; because both of them have joined me repeatedly in trying to promote bipartisan approaches on health care policy. i don't take a back seat to
1:42 am
anybody in this body on working on health care policy in a bipartisan fashion. there is nothing that i think would be more valuable than to have democrats and republicans come together, not to talk about repealing this law but to find ways to strengthen it. there is not a law that's been passed that you can't strengthen. and having talked with my friend from utah and my friend from tennessee repeatedly, i think they know that i'm serious about reaching out for common ground with respect to this issue. but this pie-in-the-sky -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. the. mr. wyden: i ask for 30 additional seconds. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: but the pie-in-the-sky insistence, mr. president, that the affordable care act will be repealed and somehow we're not going to have the suffering that
1:43 am
i have just described that's not reality. what we ought to do is reject this amendment to repeal the affordable care act and then get back to work in a bipartisan way to strengthen the law. i yield the floor. mr. alexander: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: mr. president will the chair please inform me when ten minutes have expired? the presiding officer: the chair will so notify. mr. alexander: thank you mr. president. mr. president, today there will be at least three votes. the first as we've heard is to end debate on senator mcconnell's amendment to repeal obamacare. the second will be to end debate on the export-import bank. and then there may be a third vote on an appeal by the senator from texas senator cruz, to overturn a ruling of the chair that an amendment of his is not in order. now, this is how that came about. on friday, senator cruz offered
1:44 am
an amendment regarding iran. the chair ruled that the amendment was not in order because -- and this is what the chair said at the time -- "it is inconsistent with the are senate's precedence with respect to the offering of amendments." the senator from texas then appealed the ruling of the chair. his intention today will be to try to obtain a majority vote to overturn the chair's ruling. i respect the senator's strong desire to offer his amendment but i believe he ought to do it within the senate rules. or i believe we should change senate rules in the way our rules describe. if instead a majority of senators agrees with the senator from texas the senate will be saying that a majority can routinely change senate rules and procedures anytime it wants on any subject it wants in order to get the result it wants. the problem with that, as former senator carl levin of michigan said once, is that a senate that
1:45 am
changes its rules anytime a majority wants is a senate without any rules. think of it this way: football season is coming up. let's say the tennessee titans are playing football against the innap list colts in gnash vich and--indianapolis colts in nashville. they change the rules to say that nine yards is a touchdown. or colts say you need 110 yards to score a touchdown. no one would want to play such a game. no one would want to watch such a game. no one would respect such a game. that is why every monday in new york city, a team of former national football league officials review every referee's call or noncall from the previous sunday's game played in the nfl. the league wants to make sure absolutely sure its rules are followed. and the nfl has a rules
1:46 am
committee that meets between seasons to consider changes in the rules. it has rules about how to change its rules. the nfl, of course, wouldn't even consider allowing the titans to change the rules in the middle of a game in nashville in order to defeat the colts. mr. president, if the united states senate has a rules committee too. and we have rules on thousand -- on thousand change our rules. we should follow those rules. the united states is the chief rule making body for the united states of america. if we cannot follow our own rules, how can we expect 320 million americans to follow the rules we write for them? if we render ourselves lawless how can we expect our fellow americans to respect and follow the rule of law? there is a practical problem with what the senator from texas seeks to do. if he succeeds, it will destroy a crucial part of what we call the regular order in the united
1:47 am
states senate. he will create a precedent that destroys the orderly consideration of amendments. there will be unlimited amendments. there will be chaos. and, ironically, while destroying regular order he wouldn't get get the vote on the iran amendment that he seeks. that's because if he overrules the chair the senate leaders have a right to offer an amendment to fill that new branch of the tree before he does. mr. president, the united states senate is unique in the world. it's been called the one authentic piece of generalious in the american political system. it's uniqueness is based on procedures and agreements and precedents that encourage extended debate. this process encourages consensus and consensus is the way you govern a complex country, whether it is a civil rights bill or a trade agreement on an education bill. but a body of 100 of us that operates by unanimous consent
1:48 am
requires restraint and good will on the part of us senators to function. we saw a good example that have a couple weeks ago when the senate passed 81-17 in one week a complex elementary and secondary education bill. any senator could have made that process much more difficult but not one did. and the country is impressed with that ruvment result. there are different ways, several different ways, to establish senate rules and procedures but they all fall under the same umbrella. there are standing rules adopted by the first senate in 1789 upon the advice of thomas jefferson. there are standing orders. sometimes we set rules by passing a law such as the budget act. sometimes we establish a rule by unanimous consent or by agreeing to a new precedent. taken together, all of these represent the full body of the senate's rules and procedures. these rules of procedure have
1:49 am
several things in common, not matter how they were established. the authority for establishing and changing each of them comes from the same place: article 1 section 5, of the united states constitution. every one ever them can be changed by 67 votes following rule 22 of the senate except that standing order may be changed with 60 votes. one other thing these different forms of of rules of precedent have is that the latest change supersedes whatever rule or precedent was established earlier. so if the senator from texas persuades a majority of us to overrule the chair today that decision governs the senate forever, until it is changed or unless it is changed. so there's no real difference between changing a rule or changing a precedent. what is important is not how the precedent was established or the rule was established but what is being overturned. it is true that occasionally the senate majority uses its power
1:50 am
to overturn the ruling of the chair to refine the interpretation of rules or precedents. this means that in some limited circumstances, the senate changes its rules by majority vote. the question today is not whether we can overturn the ruling of the chair but whether we should overturn the ruling of the chair. i believe we should not do so. to do so would destroy regular order in the senate. it would create chaos in the senate. most important a senate in which a majority routinely changes the rules by overruling the chair is a senate without any rules. mr. president, there is a right way and a wrong way to change our rules of procedure. this would be the wrong way. i urge my colleagues not to agree to the senator from texas in his effort to overturn the ruling of the chair.
1:51 am
the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president i rise today to address the senate in my passty as president pro--- in my capacity as president pro tempore. i hope my colleagues will give attention to what i am about to say and will take it to heart because i speak from the heart out of respect for my colleagues and out of love for this great body in which we are all privileged to serve. mr. president, the senate has a long and justly celebrated traddition of comity and respect among members. although there have been occasional exceptions throughout history, on the whole senators have taken great care to treat each other with courtesy and respect both in private discussions and in public deliberations. we do this for several reasons. first, because mutual respect is essential for us to be able to work together to forge consensus on difficult issues that stir deep and sometimes divisive feelings.
1:52 am
passing meaningful legislation in this body typically requires the two parties to work together and that in turn requires trust and a certain level of good will. courtesy and did he corum foster an at most atmosphere where we can work to do what's best for all americans and not just those of a particular partisan persuasion. the second reason we treat each other with comportcy with courtesy and respect is because i.t. it's the honorable thing to do. we come to this body as 100 men and women with vastly different experiences and views on how government should operate. but we share a common humanity and a common goal to improve this great nation and to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. we divide into parties and join
1:53 am
caucuses. we fight passionately about matters of tremendous consequence, but we do not become enemies. we remain colleagues, and colleagues treat each other with respect. we treat each other with honor even when we feel another has perhaps not accorded us the same esteem. squabbling and sank sanctimony may be ratedtolerated on the campaign trail but in the here. the third reason is because we're the people's representatives. we are not here on some frolic or to pursue personal ambitions. we are here because the people of the united states have entrusted us with the solemn responsibility to act on their behalf in shaping our nation's laws. this is a high and holy calling.
1:54 am
it is not something to take lightly. it is a sacred trust in which pettiness or grandstanding should have no part. we're here to do serious work, and doing in doing this work, egos will inevitably be bruised. this is inherent in the nature of politics. but we are here to carry out the people's business. we serve the people, not our own egos. when we are on the losing side of a particular debate, when we're disappointed, we pick ourselves up and move ahead to the next challenge. our nation's founders designed the senate to play a special role in our constitutional system. in contrast to the more raucous popular house the senate was to be a body of deliberation and reasoned judgment. senators were to seek the common good and consider national, not
1:55 am
just parochial interests in crafting legislation and considering nominees. mr. president, decorum is essential to executing this constitutionally ordained rule. the reasoned judgment and deliberation require an atmosphere of restraint an atmosphere of thoughtful disagreement. deliberation without decorum is not deliberation at all. it is bickering and bickering mr. president, is beneath this body. regrettably, in recent times the senate floor has too often become a forum for part -- for partisan messaging. it has been misused as a tool to advance personal ambitions, a venue to promote political campaigns, and even a vehicle to enhance fund-raising efforts all at the expense of proper functioning of this body. most egregiously mr. president the senate floor has even become
1:56 am
a place where senators have singled out colleagues by name to attack them in personal terms and to impugn their character in blatant disregard of senate rules. -- which plainly prohibits such conduct. mr. president, the senate floor has hosted many passionate debates on crucial issues over the years. tempers from time to time have flared voices on occasion have been raised, but we have also -- we have almost unanimously confined our criticisms to policies and to ideas to what we think is wrongheaded about particular bills or proposals. we have not, at least in my memory called our opponents dishonest or sought to disparage their motives. to bring personal attacks to the senate floor would be to import the most toxic elements of our current political discourse into the well of the senate, into the
1:57 am
very heart of this institution. this would serve only to pollute our deliberations to break the bonds of trust that are essential for achieving some measure of consensus and to invite the dysfunction that so saturates our media and popular culture into this storeyed chamber. for those of us who care about the senate as an institution and who want once again to help solve the vexing challenges that face our nation, such misuse of the senate floor must not be tolerated. each of us republicans and democrats alike must stand together in support of the senate's time-honored traditions of collegiality and respect. we must stand resolute in requiring that the senate's formal rules concerning dignity and decorum be observed. and we must ensure that the pernicious trend of turning the senate floor into a forum for
1:58 am
advancing personal ambitions for promoting political campaigns or for enhancing fund-raising activities comes to a stop. there are enough other platforms for those seeking to accomplish those objectives. the senate floor need not be one. mr. president, i recognize that many of my colleagues are quite new to the senate and may not yet have had many opportunities to experience its proper institutional role as a forum for reasoned discussion. and constructive debate. some are less familiar with the traditions of comity and respect others may know little of the senate's history and rising above parochialism and narrow self-interest. and a few i regret to say seem unconcerned for its historic pivotal role in promoting consensus and helping to overcome our nation's challenges. mr. president, as one who has had the privilege of serving here for the past four decades i can attest from firsthand experience that the senate can
1:59 am
be and has been in times not too far past a distinguished and constructive body that does much good for our nation. i recall vividly times when this body was marked by cooperation and good will rather than rancor and disrepute. in some respects, the senate today is but a mere shadow of its former self, another casualty of the permanent political campaign. this is deeply disheartening to those like myself who are here to experience this body's better days or were here to experience this body's better days. and it is severely damaged the proper governance of our nation. mr. president, i've been frank in my remarks today. this candor stems from my genuine concern for this body and its future. i've been frank because i've seen so much of what i love about this body frittered away in recent years for small-minded shortsighted partisan gain. by virtue of my long service here in the senate and my role as president pro tempore i am a
2:00 am
dedicated institutionalist. i care deeply about this institution and i want it to work. our current majority leader has made important strides in putting the senate back on a path towards meaningful deliberation and constructive lawmaking aimed at the common good. but his efforts and those of other senators on both sides of the aisle who take the long view to seeking to build up this institution will not suffice unless each one of us is committed to instilling comity and respect as the core feature of everything we do. let us each move forward with a renewed sense of honor and respect and resolve not to tolerate misuse of the senate floor. a commitment to do our part to restore civility and constructive debate as defining characteristics of this body and a renewed willingness to work together for the good of all americans. thank you mr. president.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on